We’ve all been there. Someone misses a gaming session, and the GM can’t run her game. All eyes turn to you. You have a week, possibly less, to come up with something. Time is ticking, the grains of sand are falling in the hourglass…. What can be done???
Well, I have a list of generic plots, and if I don’t have time to develop a full bodied plot, I just pick one that seems to fit, dump some NPC’s in, even more monsters, an artifact or two, and allow everything to unfurl.
1) The Exploration
The perfect starting adventure, infinitely adaptable. Take a rag tag group of peoples and send them somewhere. Make it boring, just a series of campfires at the end of the day, night after night. Make it a gauntlet, where the players have no way back and have to fight their way through. Give them something good at the end. Maybe one of the party is a traitor? Or a huge boss at the end. Or don't. Defy expectations, always!
See Also: Anything from Jules Verne, The Mummy (1999)
2) The Wetworks
Ah, killing. Is there anything easier to grasp? Go there, kill the thing. Usually this goes hand in hand with the exploration. Go there, explore your way in, then kill the thing. Now, in games like Shadowrun, you get missions that are just about the killing, and most of the prep would be about actually getting there. So, maybe the hard bit is to get through the security and/or the traps to get to your target (sorry, your Tango). Maybe your target had other ideas, and it is a billion times more powerful than expected. Oh yes, maybe you've been had, my sweet summer child.
See Also: Shadowrun, Assassin’s Creed
3) The Recovery
Not unlike the previous two, but you'll need to grab something. An artifact? Some sensitive data? There are many choices. Again, the main issues in this plot might simply be that it's horrendously difficult to get to the thing, and the thing itself is just a gimmick. Or maybe the thing is cursed and will actively act against the players. Or the thing will broadcast its location and anyone that can will chase after you mercilessly.
You know, a Thursday.
See Also: Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones
4) The Heist
The Recovery on steroids. You need to go the place and do the thing, but getting in and out is the key aspect. Maybe it needs to be done in total stealth, with zero impact. No killings, just quietly in and out. Maybe the thing is behind enough traps to give pause to Indiana Jones' and Lara Croft's' secret baby. It's stealing from the mafia, stealing from the dragon, stealing from the duke.
See Also: The Italian Job, The Hobbit
5) The Escort
Someone (or something) needs to get from a to b, preferably in one piece and hopefully alive. Now, for anyone that has ever played an escort mission on a computer RPG knows the hell on Earth this represents. Escorted people are usually idiots. As in, they have the survival instincts of depressed lemmings. So maybe make your escorted an arrogant princess, with tissue thin armour, but a conviction that she can kill red dragons with her own hands. The players will need to balance self-preservation, and making sure she doesn't make the enemy orc splatter her all over the landscape. You can also toss this trope on its ear, and make the escortee completely capable of taking care of herself, and she’s staying with the group so she can use them as expendable resources along the way.
See Also: Fallout 4, Any other RPG ever made
6) The Cargo Run
A rehashing of the Exploration troupe, with many items from the Escort. Take package or item from point a to point b. Could be run as a chill mission, or as madly as you like. The fact that the NPC that is accepting the delivery will only be known at the end of the adventure, offers new possibilities. Maybe the receiver doesn’t want the item (it might be damaged?), or wants to change the deal, ambushing the players. Maybe there is an animal in package, causing havoc? Maybe the package is cursed?
See Also: Firefly
7) The Milk Run
This one I borrowed from Shadowrun. It's not a type per se, more of a narrative. Make the mission stupidly easy (a milk run). Convince the players that yes, it'll be THAT easy. Then pull the rug. And watch the fireworks.
See also: Any narrative involving a mission. Seriously.
So here were my usual adventure types? How many others can you come up with?
Rui is a Portuguese scientist that, after ten years doing strange things in labs, decided to become a teacher. Then, two years ago, like he was bit by a radioactive D20, RPG’s came into his life, and he’s now juggling teaching, playing and GMing quite happily. He lives in the UK with his partner Joana, an ungodly number of potted plants, 4 to 5 RPG’s at various stages of completion (and across as many rule systems), and maps, cursed idols, evil necklaces, and any other props he can get his hands on. He’s been writing for HLG for a few months, and is one of the resident vloggers. He can be reached at @Atomic_RPG.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.